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Review: Uma Thurman caper comedy ‘The Con Is On’ loses its fizz as it goes

Uma Thurman in a scene from “The Con is On.” Credit: Lionsgate
Uma Thurman in the movie “The Con Is On.”
(Lionsgate)

“The Con Is On” takes off like a shot: a stylish caper with enjoyably wry, martini-soaked dialogue and a terrific comedic turn by Uma Thurman as a glamorous British scam artist.

Then there’s the film’s second half — which sinks like a stone. That’s too bad since director James Haslam, who co-wrote with Alex Michaelides, had all the makings here of the kind of sexy, breezy crime farce in short supply these days.

Thurman, working a posh accent and acres of attitude, plays slinky swindler Harriet, who, along with equally shady, boozehound hubby Peter (Tim Roth), flies to Los Angeles to steal a priceless jewel from Peter’s actress ex-wife, Jackie (Alice Eve). The goal: to repay Harriet’s huge gambling debt to a ruthless mobster (Maggie Q).

But what begins as a seemingly simple heist loses steam and focus amid a pileup of Hollywood-style nuts and narcissists who divert Harriet and an increasingly blotto Peter. These over-the-top folks include Jackie, her volatile filmmaker fiancé (Crispin Glover), his unstable assistant (Parker Posey) and rapacious leading lady (Sofia Vergara), and a double-dealing gay priest (Stephen Fry).

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A funny bit in which Harriet poses as a dog whisperer is one of many moments in which the game Thurman makes you wish there were far more pros to this “Con.”

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‘The Con Is On’

Rating: R, for language throughout, drug and alcohol use, some sexual content and violence

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD

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